Daily Practice

Last week I interviewed the author and teacher T. Thorn Coyle for DruidCast, the monthly podcast by the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. One of the questions I asked her was what advice she could give to more experienced spiritual practitioners? The answer she gave was to make sure to have a regular daily practice. She also said to stop using the word ‘mundane’ to describe our everyday activities. That the spiritual can encompass everything we do, be that sitting in quiet meditation in the woods, working a deep magical ritual, or doing the washing up.

For many people I’m sure that this apparent simple answer could actually appear quite hard. Time is one thing. Where is the time for a regular daily practice, and how can washing up be seen as a spiritual pursuit? Her answer to time was also simple, most of us find time for Facebook and Twitter… It’s true with me, sometimes the way I use my time is not always the best and most spiritually nourishing. I’m sure many of us procrastinate, waste time, even use other tactics to self-sabotage our well-being, and then say ‘I just don’t have any time for myself’.

Thorn’s answer was to use some of that Facebook time, some of that TV-watching time, just 30 minutes a day, to take that walk in the woods, to go to another room in your house, away from distraction, and meditate. There’s no doubt that a daily practice reminds us who we are, and why we are doing this work. The opposite is also true – the longer we leave it, the harder it can be to make that connection with our spiritual selves again. Questions like, ‘I used to feel so much more, and now it feels like it’s all gone’ begin to arise. I’ve been there on a number of occasions when I’ve had a prolonged absence of spiritual practice. I know I’m not the only one.

And the spiritual connection of washing up? It’s obvious. These are the plates, cutlery, and pans that cooked the food that keeps us alive and feeds not just our bodies but our spirit. The food was grown from our Mother Earth, maybe an animal gave its life so we could eat. To make them clean again shows respect for that food, and for ourselves.

So that’s it. No more excuses. I can find that 30 minutes each day. If you’ve found yourself diverting your attention away from your spiritual needs, why don’t you join me?

7 Comments

  1. AmethystDragon January 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    This was one of the things that really stuck with me after hearing the Druidcast on Friday – I’ve had a very difficult year & finding the desire to do any sort of spiritual practice let alone work on my Bardic studies has been almost impossible but so much of what T.Thorn Coyle said resonated with me & it’s come at a time when my path has started wandering back onto the main track – therefore it was a very welcome kick in the pants to not let it slip again

  2. Cordelia January 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing such a simple, yet needed, reminder to us all. I admit there are days I find myself being busy with clutter, no substance! I have started making lists and on that list is a time for quiet and meditation. Finding a spiritual connection in what was considered mundane makes us realize that all is truly connected and divine. Blessings to you!

  3. John Willmott January 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Another valuable sharing blog Damh. Thank you.

    My own thought through my life, and I discussed this with women over breakfast this morning, as this seems to be a common thought of men. This thought is that work is prayer, work is meditation.

    Interesting your reference to “mundane” as i find I tend to throw myself into work that some may call “mundane” but I would call prayer.

    I spend a lot of time either creating or maintaining labyrinths which involves a lot of repetitive yet simple work. Farmers do a lot of chores like this, builders such as bricklayers, masons, roofers carpenters are the same.

    John O’Donohue often referred to work being his best place for prayer such as cutting a field of grass for hay or hand milking cows.

    Local wood sculptor-storyteller Michael Quirke, to us, tells of the same story of how he does what he does more for the flow of prayer than for what he actually created.

    I find that making Brigid crosses is a small journey to this, two simple motions to weave the cross allowing prayer to enter as we make a cross, then as the prayer naturally ends the Brigid’s cross is complete.

    When work is prayer and meditation I feel there is both the satisfaction of having personal sanctuary, space and alter combined with actually getting stuff done that is useful, often to serve more people beyond ourselves.

    Of course work eventually tires us, so meditative rest without work is of important value too.

  4. sean ryan January 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    thanks for this – if unable to get to the woods or countryside for some reason i find swimming to be a perfect activity to get out of myself and meditate /i have been on some amazing journeys whilst swimming – its like i occupy my body with a repetitive activity and then – go off .
    so off now to the pool !!
    thanks and gratitude
    sean

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  6. Alex C January 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Thank you Damh for this sage post. It’s timing is like a big pokey stick reminding me of my recent resolution.

    Just last week I decided to try and get into a daily routine of meditation and kick started it with a visit to a drop-in Buddhist meditation group. There they said that if we are meditating effectively just 10 minutes each day is enough to to keep us connected to our inner peace and happiness.

    This was a most positive piece of information for me as I am queen of never having enough time and needing to get a round tuit! I say start small just to get into a routine and then you can increase the amount of self time once you are used to it and comfortable with the idea.

    I especially love the idea of washing up taking on a spiritual element though. I think I will try and use this time more positively as I spend rather a lot of it with my hands in the sink 🙂

  7. Michu January 28, 2011 at 11:56 am - Reply

    I’m sorry for this offtopic, but I don’t know where to ask:

    Is there any chance, that you’ll make a gig in Poland?

    PS. “Green And Grey” is pure awesomeness.

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